I have been trying for a long time to figure out if my story is just considered Dystopian or Fiction.

It has things that are not in real life situations but it is also relating to an imagined society where there are great suffering and injustice. But yet it does not relate to any main futuristic points or into space adventures.

Or would you just consider it a 'dystopian fiction' genre?

  • 2
    I can't quite tell whether your sentences are straight up missing subjects, or if there is something grammatically off, but I find it really difficult to parse your question. Could you maybe give it another proofread and fix it up a bit? Thanks.
    – Weckar E.
    Dec 11 '19 at 23:04
  • In the first sentence, do you mean "Dystopian or Science Fiction"?
    – Tashus
    Jan 3 '20 at 17:41

Dystopian literature often overlaps with the post-apocalypse and science fiction genres. However, your story doesn't need either of those elements to be classified as dystopian.

Consider the origin of the word: a dystopia is the opposite of a utopia, a place or society of perfection. So dystopian fiction explores imaginary settings that create negative circumstances for the characters within them.

MasterClass cites five common themes in modern dystopian literature:

  1. Government control
  2. Environmental destruction
  3. Technological control
  4. Survival
  5. Loss of individualism

If your story hits several of these themes, then the dystopian classification makes sense. Otherwise it may be easiest to label it speculative fiction.


Dystopian is, by definition, a society that is as dehumanizing and unpleasant as possible.

If the themes in your book are about an imagined society where there is great suffering and injustice, then yes, it's Dystopian.

From Dictionary:

Definitions of dystopia

(n) State in which the conditions of life are extremely bad as from deprivation or oppression or terror

(n) a work of fiction describing an imaginary place where life is extremely bad because of deprivation or oppression or terror

  • I think there has to be an element of hopelessness too. Society has to be stable and unchanging. If there is hope for the future, or it is possible (even if very difficult) to improve one's lot, I wouldn't call that dystopia. E.g. consider Britain during the blitz, where even though life was "extremely bad because of deprivation or oppression or terror", common people were working together with a realistic hope of reversing the situation. Dec 13 '19 at 14:23

"Dystopian" describes a speculative society which is suffering (at least in the eyes of the reader) due to human's own device.

This is different (but can be close) from:

  1. Post-apocalyptic, where though the apocalypse itself might be a result of human actions, but the society may be primitive, or humanely organized;

  2. Alt-history, where the society that we see as dystopian is a fictionalized replica of a real historical society;

  3. Alien invasion/robot uprising, where humans are suppressed by non-humans.


Think of it as a utopia that went wrong. So, a nation that was supposed to be a great society that got corrupted and became evil. (Although a bit of a loose metaphor, The Soviet Union could kind of be considered “dystopian.” The Bolsheviks Planned on created a wonderful society free of poverty and suffering, and then Stalin turned it into one of the deadliest societies in history. Nazi Germany could also be considered a dystopia.)

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